Until such time as bankers start getting hefty bonuses again and, therefore, the New York restaurant economy rebounds, eating out should not be a financially onerous proposition. Here now to help you schedule your week, a day-by-day guide to eating kingly dinners for $35 per person or less.
Smith's Spring Chicken for Two at $35 all-in might be the single best deal in town. Get it Mondays or Tuesdays all night. Note that the dinner isn't listed on the menu, so ask your waiter.
A neighborhood semi-secret in the East Village, Aroma Kitchen & Winebar, which is essentially Lupa lite, offers three courses on Tuesdays for $25 per person. Sample menu item: Sicilian meatloaf, herbed polenta, sautéed spinach, red-pepper pesto.
Both of Marco Canora's restaurants, Hearth and Insieme, offer their Cucina Povera menu seven nights a week. It's $35 a head for stuff that includes Canora's ridiculously good ribollita soup. Wine pairings jack the price another $15, if you're into that sort of thing. In the East Village you get Hearth's somewhat cozy downtown digs; Insieme, uptown in Times Square, is the choice for those above 42nd Street.
Dylan Prime, the Tribeca cool-guy steakhouse, offers a prix fixe in the lounge every night, and the place gets pretty lively on Thursdays. With the arrival of Wolfgang's two blocks south, the dining room here doesn't make much sense. But the bar, especially for sports, plays. Sample menu (Items rotate, but always include steak): baby wedge salad; choice of hanger steak, salt pepper short ribs, bistro steak, or grilled salmon fillet; apple tart dessert.
You could make the argument that Del Posto Enoteca is the best three-star deal in town, with their prix fixe coming in at $35 a head all day Wednesday through Friday. Friday is the day to go, as it's full on Fridays, making the cruise-ship interior not so choppy. Diners get to pick from à la carte offerings in selecting the menu. Note that the $35 option isn't listed, so ask for it before you start ordering.
Lever House, Brad Thompson's uptown New American, offers its $35 prix fixe every night and will do so until the Dow breaks 10,000. Menu choices are market-driven and rotating. On offer now, for example, is sautéed skate wing with lentils, lardons, and red-wine butter.